“There are some really big brands trying to dabble in it, but I think it’s a really hard thing to do,” she said. “There aren’t many brands of our size that are able to continue doing here, to be honest with you, there’s such a shortage of skills here.”
The EY Australian Fashion and Textiles Industry Survey for 2021 found that 88% of local fashion companies design their products in Australia, but only 29% partially source their products from local suppliers.
The Australian Fashion Council has found a “major opportunity” for increased domestic sourcing and production.
Vicki Nicola, Senior Fashion and Millinery Educator at the Kangan Institute, said fashion making has played a big part in Melbourne’s history.
“After COVID, we can see there’s been a comeback, with more and more brands looking to get down to earth,” she said.
Nicola said that during the height of Melbourne’s rag trade in the 1950s and 1960s, Flinders Lane was the manufacturing hub, with Collingwood and Richmond also being important areas for the fashion industry.
“I’ve seen the industry go from everything being made in Melbourne in the early 2000s, everything going overseas and very little to Melbourne,” she said. “I don’t think it will ever be what it was, but I can definitely feel there’s a bit of a vibe coming back.”
Nicola said the new wave of fashion makers were shelled out across Melbourne and key areas were Collingwood, Sunshine, Abbotsford and Richmond.
“There is an increase in the number of companies manufacturing locally, but we have a severe shortage of workers and materials and an increase in demand for locally made products that exceeds supply,” she said.
Woods and Nicola are both speaking at a Melbourne Fashion Week event called ‘Make it Melbourne’ this week, which will include the premiere of a three-part documentary of the same name which focuses on emerging hubs garment manufacturing company in Melbourne.
Melbourne Mayor Sally Capp said the fashion industry was big business for Melbourne and manufacturing was an important part of the whole process.
“It’s a cycle of connection, from a designer’s creativity, to realization, to a runway show, to the retail experience,” she said.
“I’m the granddaughter of a Flinders Lane milliner and I feel a lovely sense of personal connection to this and how important it is. We don’t want to lose him; we want to continue to highlight it so that it can flourish.
Make it Melbourne takes place at ACMI on Federation Square at 11am on Thursday 13th October. Melbourne Fashion Week from October 10 to 16.
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